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Overlooking Deceased Alumni

The Emotional Stakes

Navigating a delicate situation and its implications for institutional reputation. 

Every year, approximately 275,000 Canadians pass away. Each individual represents a unique story, a lifetime of memories, and a network of grieving family members and friends. For <Alumni> departments, failing to update their databases with this sensitive information can inadvertently cause further emotional distress to these grieving loved ones. 

Imagine the heartache a spouse or family member might feel upon receiving a donation solicitation intended for their deceased loved one. It is a harsh reminder of their loss, a momentary re-opening of a wound that is already challenging to heal. Such an oversight can make families question the genuine interest and care of the institution. Was their loved one merely a name in a vast, impersonal database?

Reputational Costs and Institutional Responses

Beyond the emotional toll on families, such oversights can also harm the reputation of the institution. In an age of social media and instant communication, negative experiences can quickly be shared, casting a shadow on the institution’s image. Prospective students, donors, and the general public may perceive the institution as careless or disorganized.

When faced with such situations, institutions must respond swiftly and compassionately. A personal apology, either in writing or over the phone, acknowledging the oversight and explaining measures to prevent its recurrence, can go a long way in mending relations. It’s vital for institutions to convey their genuine sorrow and commitment to do better. 

Proactive Steps to Avoiding the Situation

To prevent such emotionally and reputationally costly mistakes:

1. Regular Database Audits: Institutions should schedule regular checks on their alumni databases. This helps ensure that they remain current and account for significant life changes, including passing away. 

2. Engage with the Alumni Community: Encourage feedback and open lines of communication. The alumni community can often provide updates about peers, ensuring the institution stays informed. 

3. Employ Third-party Data Enrichment Services: Services like Cleanlist specialize in updating and maintaining accurate databases, including identifying deceased individuals. Their expertise not only ensures accuracy but also demonstrates and institution’s commitment to handle alumni data with the utmost respect and care. 

How Cleanlist Helps

The importance of maintaining an updated alumni database transcends mere administrative accuracy. It is a reflection of an institution’s commitment to its community, it’s understanding of the emotional complexities of life, and its dedication to treating every individual with respect. By taking proactive steps, institutions can ensure they navigate this sensitive terrain with compassion and precision. 

Cleanlist works with Alumni, Advancement and Foundation professionals ensuring their contact database is up to date as possible. Our solution for education database maintenance offers these features:

  1. Address Correction
  2. Mover Updates
  3. Contact Locate 
  4. Deceased Flagging 
  5. Phone Number Lookup
  6. Email Validation
  7. Demographic and Lifestyle Enrichment
  8. Donation History Enrichment
  9. Duplicate Check

To learn more about Cleanlist’s service, schedule a 30-minute virtual appointment with our experts. Make sure to ask about its free data audit report card. 

Your organization, your data, and your needs are unique. To find out what’s possible Cleanlist offers a free assessment to qualified organizations.

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